Police suspect theft after pensioner's mystery death

DETECTIVES investigating the mystery death of a pensioner in her sheltered accommodation are probing whether she was the victim of theft.

• Forensics officers remove evidence from Mrs Reid's flat

An inquiry has been launched into the death of Marie Reid at her home in Easter Drylaw Way after a post mortem ruled the cause of death was "inconclusive".

Neighbours of the 62-year-old said her son, Paul, had told them bank and post office cards, as well as a sum of cash, were missing when she was found.

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Residents also said they had been told patches of blood had been found on a settee in the room where Mrs Reid was lying dead. Detectives said they were unable to comment on the alleged blood find and were still trying to determine whether any property had been taken from the frail pensioner's home.

The post mortem examination found "no obvious cause of death", and officers are now waiting for the results of toxicology tests expected back in the next few days. White-suited forensic specialists spent yesterday examining Mrs Reid's home, where she has lived for the past ten years, and further tests were expected to last until the weekend.

Detective Inspector Matt Richards, who is leading the inquiry, said the pensioner had last been seen alive on November 11, four days before her body was discovered by council staff at around 7.30pm on Monday, November 15.

Det Insp Richards said: "Mrs Reid's death is being treated as unexplained. We're not certain that anything has been taken from her home, but it is something we're looking into. A lot of neighbours and friends would run errands for Mrs Reid, such as doing her shopping, because she was frail. She was known to sit in a chair at the side of her house while smoking and often spoken to people there.

"Several people have already spoke to us and given us information on her lifestyle, movements and pastimes, but we're still missing vital details on any of her movements between November 11 and the time her body was found so we're appealing to anyone who saw or spoke to her to come forward."

Mrs Reid, whose husband died around a decade ago, suffered chest problems and used a walking frame for short trips to local shops. Neighbours said she would often leave her back door unlocked all day. She was hospitalised for two weeks last Christmas due to a bout of illness.

Her home was fitted with a motion-sensitive detector which would alert council staff if she had not being moving around the property. Her next-door neighbour, John Burns, 58, a retired building worker, said: "It was at least a week before she was found when I last saw her, but her house had a sensor which set off an alarm at the council offices if she didn't move about for 24 hours.

"She must have still been alive until the day before she was found or the support workers would've been alerted. Either that or someone else was moving around her house.

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"Her son said there was blood found on her settee and her cards where missing, but he doesn't know much about what the police are doing. It's shocking to think her death might be suspicious.

Retired school janitor James Ulke, 67, who lives across the street from Mrs Reid's home, said: "I heard the ambulance arrive that night. The paramedics were inside for about 45 minutes. Then a few hours later a private ambulance arrived to take away her body. The police have been outside 24/7 ever since."

A city council spokesman said: "The council is assisting the police with their inquiries."